NEW YORK and WALLDORF — Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) are expanding their decades-long partnership to help companies embed sustainability across the full spectrum of their business operations — from strategy to execution — to unlock new value throughout their enterprises and in their value and supply chains.
Combining SAP technology with Accenture’s Sustainability Services and broad industry knowledge, the partners are expanding their alliance to jointly create new solutions that can empower companies to accelerate their progress on fully de-carbonizing their supply chains and capture their share of the projected $4.5 trillion economic growth that the circular economy could bring.*
Through this extended partnership, Accenture and SAP plan to co-innovate and co-develop SAP’s new solution for responsible production and design, which includes capabilities that help companies embed sustainability metrics across their value and supply chains with a focus on product design and manufacturing. Using integrated data from across operations, companies can better design and produce products with less waste, improved recyclability and more recycled content. This will also help reduce the growing cost of compliance driven by new regulations for packaging and extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations.
“Our work together will enable SAP’s customers, which include 92% of the Forbes Global 2000, to use their core systems to help drive their sustainability agenda, optimize their ESG performance and achieve their goals,” said Julie Sweet, chief executive officer at Accenture. “This expanded collaboration builds on our long history with SAP — including our joint partnership with the United Nations Global Compact and 3M — and our shared commitment to drive adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Accenture also supports SAP’s Climate 21 initiative, which allows companies in any industry to use analytics to measure and minimize carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and lower the carbon footprint across the product lifecycle. For instance, research shows that emissions from upstream suppliers are on average over five times as high as those from direct operations.** With sustainability metrics added across the end-to-end supply chain, companies gain an integrated view of environmental savings and cost impacts and more easily optimize their operations.
“To successfully tackle the greatest threat to our world today, we need to collaborate at every level of business and society,” said Christian Klein, chief executive officer at SAP. “Building on our long-standing and trusted partnership, SAP and Accenture are joining forces to help our customers realize long-term growth in a sustainable way. We’re creating visibility into the environmental impact across the entire value chain, providing enterprises with the insights they need to take the right action and accelerate their transition to the circular economy.”
Last month, SAP and Accenture kicked off a global sustainability-focused accelerator program at SAP.iO Foundries. The Sustainable Future program, the largest cohort in SAP.iO to date, aims to help early-stage B2B startups drive digital transformation and innovation in four target areas: carbon tracking and trading, resource efficiency, climate risk tracking and mitigation, and circular economy. Thirteen startups have been selected to work with SAP.iO Foundries Berlin and Munich, in tandem with Accenture experts and leading companies in various industries.
“Implementing sustainable supply chain management and circular economy principles is an incredibly challenging task for companies, given the diverse set of ESG issues and multiple stakeholders involved,” said Bjoern Stengel, senior research analyst, Worldwide Business Consulting and ESG Business Services at IDC. “According to IDC’s research, issues around enterprises’ value creation process — product design and lifecycle management, materials sourcing, etc. — are the ESG topics that will generate the greatest near-term demand. This new offering from Accenture and SAP allows clients to generate critical, data-driven end-to-end insights that take into consideration non-financial metrics that are needed to build sustainable supply chains and help companies create shared value.”
This collaboration is the latest in a series of initiatives from Accenture and SAP that help businesses capture value from sustainability. The United Nations Global Compact with the support of Accenture and SAP SE, supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched SDG Ambition in January 2020 and published the SDG Ambition and Integration Guides in September 2020. Together, through the SDG Ambition Accelerator that began in February 2021, more than 600 companies in 65 countries are being upskilled to apply these tools to their businesses.
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*Peter Lacy et al., The Circular Economy Handbook, Palgrave MacMillan, 2020.
**CDP Supply Chain, “Changing the Chain,” 2019.
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